Blog  Love in the Movement: I Found My Wife in Warwick

Love in the Movement: I Found My Wife in Warwick

By Jeffrey Kagan

In 2004, I was invited to serve as Visiting Faculty at the Kutz Camp, the first TYG advisor to teach the TYG major track.  Little did I know that returning to Kutz, my home for four summers in the 1980s, would result in the biggest changes in my life

Kagan Family

Photo Credit: Avra Bossov

My camp liaison for the week I was at Kutz was Amy Nissim, then the NFTY-GER Regional Advisor.  We worked together to ensure that the material I had planned to teach was appropriate and that I had the resources I needed to be successful.  We started spending a great deal of time together that week, and, by the time I left for home—Chicago at the time—I knew that something great had happened to me.

We spent the next 10 months commuting back and forth between Chicago and Hoboken, enriching AT&T with nightly phone calls, and slowly making future plans together.  Amy had been planning to leave NFTY to get her Masters in Social Work, and she decided to apply to Chicago schools; having been accepted to Dominican University in the Chicago suburbs, she made plans to move to the Windy City.  I attended Amy’s last GER event, Spring Kallah, at Camp Harlam with a very special item in my possession.  Though I had planned to maneuver us to some other location, I found the right moment on Saturday night after the teens had vacated the Beit.  I proposed to Amy then and there and she said “yes”.

We spent two years in Chicago—getting married in Florham Park, NJ, in the summer of 2006, with a dozen or so NFTY/URJ pals in attendance—while Amy went to school and, as she was graduating, my job came to an abrupt halt.  As free agents at the same time, we considered staying in Chicago or moving east.  A job offer for me in NYC sealed the deal and off we went, settling in Westfield, NJ. Our beautiful and rambunctious daughter, Sophie, joined us in February 2010.

Fast forward to today—we are the Jr. and Sr. Youth Group Advisors at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, NJ.  I also serve as Vice Chair, Marketing and Recruitment, for the Kutz Camp.  We will return to Warwick again this summer:  Amy as Inclusion Coordinator for the Kutz Mitzvah Corps program, while I will serve as Visiting Faculty.

Looking back, it’s important and ironic to include the fact that I was always asked “why do you keep doing that youth group thing—you’re never going to meet anyone!”  Usually, I enjoy proving naysayers wrong, but this is even more fulfilling.  NFTY (and the Kutz Camp) enabled me to meet my beshert—a pretty sweet gig, and an even better opportunity to give back to a very important cause.  Thanks to all who had a hand in getting us together (you know who you are!) and for continuing to give us such purpose.